WHITE HALL — A 140 square-foot space, a heap of hospitality, a splash of coffee and one woman tying it all together.
A month ago, 25-year-old Taylor McCartney opened the doors to White Hall’s newest coffee shop, Groove Coffee. Nestled in the corner of the Rose Plaza, just across the street from the bustling Middletown Commons, sits a small space that, at the start of this year, acted as the office for the owner of the adjacent CBD dispensary.
With such a modest amount of space, McCartney has taken the term “small business” to the literal extreme, but that’s by design.
“I want this to be a welcoming environment,” McCartney said. “I want people to feel welcome here. This place is a piece of me.”
McCartney grew up in the Fairmont area, graduated from East Fairmont High and went on to West Virginia University to study, not business, but fashion design.
With hopes and aspirations of moving to Pittsburgh and striking it in the fashion world, McCartney found herself struggling with the realities of the industry. Combine this with the happenstance meeting of her now-boyfriend, McCartney decided to stay in Fairmont.
While she continued to sort out what she wanted in life, McCartney bounced between working at Muriale’s Italian Kitchen and Savvy Consignment, a boutique across the river from downtown Fairmont.
While she loved her job at Muriale’s, she had been working there for the better part of nine years. Finally deciding to take a blind leap, she wanted to apply everything she had learned under Rocco Muriale to a business of her own.
During her time at Muriale’s, she worked her way up through the ranks from host to wait staff up into a managerial position. All that time, she absorbed the little lessons Muriale would pass down to her.
“I’m so lucky I met [Rocco], I’m so lucky to have been a part of his business and to have been his employee,” McCartney said. “He took me under his wing. I learned from him how much hospitality means to the customers.”
McCartney said her goal every day in the coffee shop is to be a friendly face for anyone who walks through her door, which was something she learned directly from Muriale.
Muriale recalls fondly the time he spent shepherding McCartney along through his business. He said he couldn’t be prouder of her determination to move on and strike it out on her own, even if it means he’s lost one of his favorite employees.
“She and I have always had a close relationship and I’m very proud of her moving in this direction,” Muriale said. “I hated to lose her from here, but when someone decides to strike it out on their own in the hospitality business, I’m very pleased to see that.”
Looking back, McCartney was surprised to realize that it has only been a few months since she came up with the business plan for her coffee shop. In four short months, the idea quickly became a reality. And while McCartney may run the shop as a solo act, she certainly didn’t get to this point without assistance.
Her boyfriend, Trevor Moran, helped her finance the project and is a co-owner in the endeavor. Josh Skidmore, owner of the neighboring CBD dispensary, Doc Jon’s CBD, was influential in helping McCartney get the space and solidify her ideas. Having worked on many start up businesses himself, Skidmore was glad to lend his expertise to someone working their way up in the business world.
Skidmore said he realized there was a need for a coffee shop in White Hall because the nearest locally-owned shop was all the way in downtown Fairmont. His hands were full managing the CBD shop, and he knew McCartney through her work at Savvy Consignment, which happened to be owned by Skidmore’s wife.
After some struggles with leases and financing to get the coffee shop a location, Skidmore sacrificed his office space next to the dispensary and allowed McCartney to transform the 140 square-foot room into what she has affectionately taken to calling her “coffee closet.”
Skidmore was happy to lend his know-how to McCartney and wishes he had a mentor when he first tried to set foot into the business world.
“Having someone coach you through those first steps is invaluable really,” Skidmore said. “I wish I would’ve had it when I got started. In small businesses, the small things add up and make the headaches a lot lighter.”
Now, a month after her opening, McCartney is starting to settle into the Groove. When she thinks of her previous jobs, she can’t imagine herself doing anything else for a living.
If she’s learned one thing from this venture, it’s that with the right plan and the right people, anything can get done if the support is there.
“When I started, I was scared, I didn’t think it would work honestly. Once I got started, I realized that the littlest steps create the bigger picture,” McCartney said. “I would get in my head about the bigger picture, but that’s not how it works. Starting a business, it was a lot of taking it one day at a time, putting my head down and letting it all happen.”
Groove Coffee is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. More info can be found on Facebook and Instagram by searching @groovecoffeefairmont.
Reach David Kirk at 304-367-2522 or by email at [email protected]